Across the Pastor’s Desk: There are 40 days of service

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 3, 2023

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose

With the beginning of the Lenten season comes the often asked question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Don Rose

As the season of Lent is thought to be one of austerity and repentance, the idea of giving something up as a “sacrifice” as Jesus sacrificed was very common. However, since the answer to the question about what is being given up often included things, like dessert and chocolate etc. — things in excess which were not good for a person anyway — there hardly seems to be any comparison in the sacrifice that Christ made. Perhaps there is a better alternative.

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This year instead of giving something up for the season, think about taking something on. The six weeks of Lent, excluding Sundays, are an ideal time to find a new way of being of service to others. Consider your gifts and find an agency or program that can use your gift to its fullest in helping others. The season makes for an ideal short-term commitment that might in fact turn into something more long-term as a person finds joy and meaning in being of service to others. There may be a sacrifice of some discretionary time, but it will prove priceless in terms of return and lasting relationships established. Service opportunities are available with the youngest to the oldest. There is a place to share and to serve as Christ shared himself and served any who were in need.

Another use of time in this season would be for Bible study. Many read devotionally but few study the scriptures. Again the opportunity is there to begin with a short-term commitment to join others in the study of God’s word. At the same time the season is long enough to establish new habits and commitments of time that can change one’s life.

It may very well be that by the end of this Lenten season, both service and Bible study will have become a part of life that one does not want to lose. There are good habits as well as bad. Service and Bible study habits are guaranteed to do a world of good not only for the individual but for others as well. Consider the possibilities for Lent this year.

Instead of chocolate, give up some time and find yourself in a closer relationship with God and neighbor.

Don Rose is pastor at Mansfield and United Lutheran churches.